Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is against the law in every US state and the District of Columbia. More than just illegal, it is often deadly. According to MADD, there were more than 11,000 deaths nationwide caused by drivers who were DUI in 2020 alone. We are going to take a look at DUI death statistics closer to home and determine how many DUI deaths happen in South Carolina a year.
If your loved one died in an automobile accident with a driver who was under the influence, you should speak with a Greenville wrongful death attorney to discuss your options for filing a claim on behalf of your family member. Upstate Personal Injury Lawyers, LLC offers free consultations in South Carolina.
How Alcohol Affects Driving Ability
Alcohol begins to affect a person as soon as it is consumed. Any amount of alcohol begins to affect motor skills and the ability to make sound decisions. It also affects the drinker’s ability to determine how drunk they are.
Blood alcohol content
The alcohol that accumulates in the blood can be tested using a breathalyzer test which gives a blood alcohol content (BAC) level. States set their own BAC limit until 2001 when all states formally set the BAC for legally intoxicated at .08. States cannot raise the limit but they can lower it, Utah recently became the first state to set the legal limit of intoxication at just .05.
If a driver registers a BAC of .08 or higher in South Carolina they can be charged with a DUI. A BAC of .15 or higher can result in harsher penalties. If a legally intoxicated driver has an accident that results in death they could face charges of manslaughter.
DUI Deaths in South Carolina
Drivers under the influence of alcohol were the cause of nearly 30% of all accident fatalities in South Carolina in 2019 and in 2020. The BAC is unknown for nearly 60% of the remaining accident fatalities, so it is unknown whether alcohol could have played a part in the deaths.
DUI deaths are on the rise. South Carolina’s DUI deaths increased by 14% from 2019-2020. These totals are based on preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and are subject to change.
- 2019: 276 (27% of all accident fatalities)
- 2020: 315 (30% of all accident fatalities)
Another trend in DUI crash statistics is the number of drunk drivers who were found to have a BAC that was .15 or higher. Nearly twice the legal limit in South Carolina, 73% of DUI deaths involved a driver with a BAC of .15 or higher.
Repeat DUI Offenders
The penalties for DUI in South Carolina have gotten much stricter over the years, but a driver who is convicted of a first-offense DUI faces only 30 days in jail or a fine of up to $100. This has not done much to deter drivers under the influence, as 71% of DUI deaths were caused by repeat offenders.
DUI Wrongful Death Cases
If a loved one has died due to an accident with a driver who was under the influence your family may be able to file a claim against the driver for wrongful death. A wrongful death claim is separate from any criminal charges the driver may face as a result of the accident. Wrongful death claims are civil claims that seek monetary compensation for the loss your family has suffered due to the driver’s negligence.
Contact a South Carolina Wrongful Death Attorney
Upstate Personal Injury Lawyers, LLC has experience handling sensitive and difficult claims like wrongful death claims. Though every situation is unique, our team can consult with you free of charge and offer you guidance tailored to your situation.
Contact Upstate Personal Injury Lawyers, LLC to schedule a consultation so we can discuss whether your family is entitled to compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one.
FAQ About DUI Cases
What state has the most DUI deaths?
Texas had the most reported DUI fatalities, in 2019 there were 1,338 and in 2020 there were 1,495. South Carolina had the highest DUI fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled at 1.97.
Can I file a wrongful death claim if the driver was under the influence but refused a breathalyzer and was not charged with DUI?
The criminal charge of DUI and the civil wrongful death claim are separate matters to be decided individually in separate courts. The refusal to test can be presented as evidence, as can a conviction of DUI if there is one or any prior DUI convictions.